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How to Identify ADHD in Children

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition affecting millions of children and adults. Children especially can struggle with ADHD as it can cause low self-esteem, trouble maintaining friendships, and trouble in school. While treatment won’t cure ADHD, you and your child can learn how to manage symptoms so they can have good outcomes. Of course, before you can treat it, you have to know how to identify ADHD in children.

What Is ADHD?

As the name suggests, ADHD tends to manifest as inattentiveness or hyperactivity. Usually, symptoms start to show before age 12 and can start as young as 3 years of age. Children can show symptoms that are mild to severe and may show only inattentiveness or hyperactivity or a blend of both.

It’s important to note that while ADHD is diagnosed most commonly in boys, it occurs in girls as well. However, boys and girls often present symptoms differently, which can make diagnosis tricky. It’s also important to note there are three subtypes of ADHD, each of which can show different symptoms:

  • Predominantly inattentive
  • Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive
  • Combined (a mix of the above)

Inattentive ADHD

A child whose ADHD manifests as inattentiveness often shows any of the following symptoms:

  • Failure to pay attention to details
  • Regularly making careless or the same mistakes on schoolwork
  • Having trouble maintaining focus on tasks or during play
  • Appearing to not listen, even when spoken to directly
  • Failure to follow through on instructions with schoolwork or chores
  • Trouble organizing tasks or activities
  • A dislike for activities that require mental focus or effort
  • Being easily distracted
  • Losing items regularly
  • Forgetting daily or routine activities

Identify ADHD in Children 2

Hyperactive and Impulsive ADHD

A child whose ADHD presents as hyperactive and impulsive typically displays symptoms including,

  • Constant fidgeting with hands or feet
  • Squirming in their seat
  • Difficulty staying seated in class or other settings
  • Constant motion
  • Excessive talking
  • Running or climbing when it’s not appropriate
  • Trouble performing or maintaining quiet activities
  • Interrupting in conversations
  • Difficulty waiting for their turn
  • Intruding on other conversations or activities

Combined ADHD

A child with combined ADHD may show any symptoms from the above two lists. It doesn’t have to be an even split between the lists and your child may only exhibit a few symptoms.

When Is It ADHD?

ADHD symptoms can be hard to identify in children because most children exhibit any of the above symptoms at some point in their natural development. Even older children and teens may have attention problems or issues with impulsive behaviors. However, if these behaviors become disruptive to their home, school, or social activities, that could indicate ADHD.

Is Your Child Displaying ADHD Symptoms?

If you’re noticing any of the behaviors that we’ve talked about or if you’re doctor has diagnosed your child with ADHD, contact us to set up an appointment. We will help match your child with one of our behavioral experts who can help you and your child learn to manage their ADHD symptoms.


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